Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia Army ROTC Battalion and Air Force ROTC Detachment 160 held a joint commissioning ceremony today at 1 p.m. in the University of Georgia Chapel. The ceremony marked the formal graduation for eight cadets in the U.S. Reserve Officer Training Corps to commissioned officer in the U.S. armed services. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, who gave the UGA undergraduate Commencement address earlier in the day, was present to speak and to administer the new officers’ Oaths of Office.
“While we are very appreciative that the Secretary of Defense presided over the ceremony today, I think it is also important to note how absolutely appropriate his presence was,” said Lieutenant Colonel John D. Fickel, professor of military science, UGA Army ROTC. “The officers that we commissioned today will leave Athens as fantastic representatives of this august institution and great community. They depart here today ready to implement national policy while living and demonstrating our collective American values on the international stage.”
Some of the eight cadets already have military experience outside the ROTC and some come from military families. All cadets will be joining the U.S. Army or U.S. Air Force.
“I feel confident that the graduates who commissioned today are fully prepared for the rigors and demands of combat,” said Captain Jon C. Anderson, Primary Tactical Instructor, UGA Army ROTC. “They have the leadership skills to leave here and become successful in their contributions to the defense of this nation.”
The newly commissioned officers are listed below.
2LT Daniel Bodie is from Bogart, Ga. He served for three years in the Army National Guard, 1-214th Field Artillery Headquarters Battery in Elberton, Ga. He is branching signal. After signal school, he will rejoin his field artillery unit as headquarters battery signal platoon leader. He has a fine arts degree in animation.
2LT Kendall Connell is from Ringgold, GA. He served in the Army Reserves for more than nine years, with multiple deployments including Operation Joint Forge-Bosnia in 2002, Operation Enduring Freedom-Jordan in 2003 and Operation Iraqi Freedom-Iraq in 2003 – 2004. He majored in international business and Japanese and is branching military intelligence in the U.S. Army Reserves.
2LT Jackson McGehee is from Rome, Ga. He served five years in the U.S. Navy before attending UGA. He majored in geography. He is branching infantry in the U.S. Army and wants to “lead soldiers in a combat environment.”
2LT Allen McLain is from Athens, Ga. He majored in agriculture education. He is branching aviation in the Army National Guard and will join the 185th Aviation unit in Winder, Ga.
2LT Erik Smith is from Midland, Ga. He majored in political science. He will be a munitions and missile maintenance officer in the U.S. Air Force. He plans to enter the JAG Corps and eventually retire from the Air Force.
2LT Shonta Smith is from Albany, Ga. She majored in sociology. She will be a force support officer in the U.S. Air Force. She plans to follow “the footsteps of a military family.”
2LT Erik Spear is from Allentown, Pa. He majored in international affairs and will be a combat systems officer in the Air Force. He wants to “travel the world while doing [his] part to help win the War on Terror.”
2LT Tyler Torres is from Talking Rock, Ga. Before attending UGA, he served in the 82nd Airborne Division. He is branching infantry in the Army National Guard and wants to “serve the people of the United States in whatever way possible.” He plans to go to any Army schools that he can, specifically Ranger, Pathfinder, and Jumpmaster. He majored in sociology.